Wednesday, 29 June 2016

the entrance: before + mood

The next room I'm sharing with you in this little introduction to my plans for our new house is the smallest one - the entrance. If you remember the floor plan the entrance is pretty much just a corner of the living room. As you might guess from my plan sketch I have divided the living room into 4 different functions, and even though they are all in the same space I have also made 4 different mood boards and will present them in different blog posts. Mostly because it's fun and I'm the boss here.

Anyway, here goes. The entrance just consist of the few square meters right inside the main entrance door. As opposed to what I am used to from Scandinavian homes it is neither walled off or have an extra durable flooring, obviously for climate reasons...


Mood board

inspiration photos from here: 1. 2. 3

I want a de-cluttered and open entrance. As this is a tiny space, function will have to go before aesthetics, and I have chosen to use as much white as possible, with a few exceptions. I also didn't want this space to compete with the other parts of the bigger room. There's no need for storage of coats or jackets, so the only thing we need to keep here is shoes, bags and keys. And a mirror, for last minutes hairdo-checks, obvs.

Shopping list:
  • small shelf or list for keys and mail
  • baskets for storage
  • door mat or bigger mat for the whole are in durable material, like sisal or jute
To see more of what inspires me for the house right now, have a look at my Pinterest

Monday, 27 June 2016

Heavy rain

It's hard to capture heavy rain in a photo, especially with a phone camera. It's easier to display the results of the rain. So here's a few photos of what it can be like to live in a rain forest.

I'm in the quarantine kennel now, hanging out with the cats, and these photos are from the parking lot. The cats are doing much better, by the way. They seem relaxed and eat well. Hugo is terrified by this rain though, so at this moment he's cowering in a corner. Poor baby. 

Sunday, 26 June 2016

the tropical garden, thoughs and plans

It's going to be so interesting and exiting to have a tropical garden to work with! I mean besides all of the new plants and trees to get used to, you also have to take monkeys and monsoons into consideration...

Here are a few photos (iPhone only again, I'm sorry) from what the garden looks like now. I has some trees, brown grass, some piles of garden waste and a few bushes. It also have potential.

front of the house
leaves of one of the big trees at the driveway
the front of the garden, where some random cars parked the other day
also front of the garden, with the monkey-safe garbage-can cage
back of the house, where the drying rack is
also back of the house
leaves of another one of the big trees
detail that I kind of want to hide...
stem overgrown with something

And here's a plan where you can see the garden in relation to the house and streets. As you can see there is quite a lot of empty lawn - and the grass isn't very grown in. The view from the garden down in the left corner is really boring and the "hedge" there is very sparse. Otherwise there are some quite beautiful large trees.

I already told you about our shopping spree, and that we are planning to make this garden a bit more green and tropical, but here's an illustration of what I have in mind, at least as first steps.

The three solitaires on the lawn are the two palms from this post and the banana plant. I also want to fill in the hedge a bit with lower but denser bushes to give the garden more privacy. On the right side of the house I plan to add a small kitchen garden and along the front of the house under the porch I want to have some flowering bushes. On the left side I want to add something that shields the backside a bit so I can hang out there in my bikini. 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

the bedroom: before + mood

So I have already shown you some photos of the house (sorry for bad quality iPhone photos) and now I'm going to start sharing my plans for how to furnish and decorate it! My strategy here has been sort of the same I have used when I work with other interior projects, but way simpler of course. To begin with I have decided what functions I want where, how I want the different spaces to feel and then (digitally) furnished with the pieces we already own, where they fit in the scheme. I have also composed lists for what we need to buy and add to achieve the wanted feeling and function. My tools have been mood boards and a SketchUp model of the house. At the moment I don't have a Revit license, otherwise I would probably have made the model there instead.

As this is a rental I have not planned to make any remodeling of the current structure of the house or to even paint any walls. Even though I might have had big dreams of rooms painted in deep, tropically inspired blues and greens... We'll see over time if this changes.

Anyway, enough background. Let's start with the bedroom:
This room is almost square in shape and quite big. It's a corner room with windows on two sides and a double built in wardrobe.


Mood board:

inspiration found here: 1, 2, 3 & 4

I want a calm and clean space where it will be easy to relax. As this will be a combined bedroom and "dressing room" I want storage of clothes and accessories to be well organized and easy to access. I've chosen a light and soft color scheme that work with what we already have and I hope to not have too much clutter in here. I will mostly furnish with a bunch of IKEA furniture we have owned since we first moved in together, supplemented over the years as we moved in to places with bigger bedrooms.

The challenges here will be to keep it tidy and not end up having clothes all over the place.

Shopping list
  • green plant(s)
  • bedspread in a light color
  • hooks for hanging clothes on the walls
  • big, white and fluffy carpets
  • possibly some shelves
  • bedside lamps
Want to see more of what inspires me right now? Have a look here

Thursday, 23 June 2016

week two, a summary, some palm-trees and a kitten

Another week has gone by, how crazy is that? For the most part this week has been very similar to the last one. I've been visiting the cats twice a day, watching Netflix and planning the furnishing of our house in between visits and have had lunch and dinner with Andreas every day. The biggest difference was that we watch quite a lot of Euro 2016, but let's not talk any more about that. So, similar week, up until today Two funny things happened today! The first one is garden related. We saw and add in the local buy-and-sell Facebook group about someone selling plants and trees from their garden. It sounds a bit strange but that's apparently how things are done here: when you move, you bring your stuff and you sell what you can't bring including the plants in you garden... We answered this add since our garden looks a bit bare and ended up buying two semi large palms, a piece of a banana plant and some bushes. Awesome! We are arranging for a guy to help us dig the plants up, drive them to our house and plant them, because they are big. And because there's apparently a guy who does this for a living. But we did manage to fit the banana plant in our little car...

So, the second funny thing of the day! After picking up the plant we went to the house to drop it off. And while we were in the garden our neighbor dropped by. He introduced himself (Pat, middle-aged guy from Australia) and his pet cat he was carrying around. Apparently he had found this kitten in his garden yesterday and decided to adopt it! It's a tiny white kitten, an abandoned stray, and it's super cute. I'm almost certain it's the same kitten we saw in our garden two days ago and that I took this photo off! 

Obviously I liked this guy, even though he talked a lot. I even volunteered to look after Snowy (the cat) when he goes on vacation in a week. I mean, I love cats and it's important to have a good relationship with your neighbors, especially when you don't know anyone else around... 

So. Two weeks in a hotel (for me, two months for Andreas!) is hopefully over if all goes as planned and we get our furniture tomorrow and can move in! Crossing my fingers....

the chess of the green fields

When I walk from our hotel past Andreas office and onward to the house we are moving in to I walk by one of the social clubs and its football field. Every time I see a football-field with its emerald green grass and white goalposts gleaming in the sun I get super nostalgic. I remember all of the football camps I used to go on as a kid, the matches we played, the comradely and the rides in our coach blue Volkswagen van with loud music on and everybody singing along. Football - or soccer if you are american - was such a big part of my childhood and teenage years. I tried playing again when I was older, I joined a team in Gothenburg when I was about 25 and another in Stavanger when I was 28 but it was never the same. I'm pretty sure there wont be any opportunity for me to play here, it would surprise me if they had any kind of ladies or co-ed team, and even so I would probably die of heat stroke if I tried. But I do miss it. Every summer I do.

Pros and cons with our new house

I guess this post might have well been called: things that annoys me about our new house. But I'm going to look at the functional and aesthetic obstacles as challenges instead of problems. Because I'm optimistic like that... plus, I'm also going to mention all of the really, really positive things about it too, so it all balances out. I'll start with the bad stuff though, because everyone loves a challenge, right?

entrance door and part of the living room


The cons

The light fixtures. All of them.
The whole house has"bucket lights" integrated in the ceiling, with light bulbs that gives a cold and not at all cozy light. There are no power outlets in the ceiling so adding additional more personal lighting might be a lot of work. We'll see. I'm already looking in to ways of covering or softening the impact of these fixtures. 

The tile in the kitchen
Not so much the tile in itself although it's not exactly sexiest as far as tiles go, but why have it on all walls, all the way to the ceiling?! I guess it's easy to clean and all but it makes it completely impossible to add extra storage in the shape of shelves or cupboards, of even the tiniest of spice racks. Sigh. Also it makes the kitchen feel cold and not very friendly. This requires some smart solutions and careful decoration to make it look more personal. Challenge accepted!

Windows without windowsills or framing
Where am I going to put all the plants?! And the windows looks so naked without any trim... Here I will have to work with ways of taking the focus away from the windows and rather focusing on what outside - or inside in the rooms. 

Built in curtain rods with pelmet (cornice)
Allows for no flexibility at all when it comes to how high or how high I want my drapes. Come on! The ceiling is so high it would have looked awesome with long curtains! Or curtains along one full wall in some of the rooms. Will have to figure out if there is a way of ignoring this...

Electrical outlets right in the middle of a wall, not along the floor
Nuff said. It's going to make furnishing a bit tricky at some spots.

The AC's 
There's no way to get away from the fact that we need them. Too bad that have to be so... boring looking?



The pros

A blank slate
The interior if the house doesn't really have a character of it's own, with every wall painted white and no decorations or embellishments to consider when decorating. I already have a pretty good idea of where all of our furniture will go and look forward to try and make it look like ours.

The floor
The whole house - except the bathroom - dark brown, polished hardwood floor. I don't know what type of wood it is, but it looks good and I like the dark color in contrast with all the white. I think it will be very easy to work with, and it will go well with our furniture.

The size
Sure, I haven't figured out exactly where we are going to put the litter boxes, but every other piece of furniture we own will fit here. Hopefully it will even look less crowded since we have one room more than in our old house. Plus we have a guest room with a guest toilet plus a large storage room  in the first floor so we might even have to buy some new stuff. Feels good.

The balcony. Or porch or whatever it is called.
This is going to be fun to decorate. I have this tropical outdoor living-room in mind. Yay!

The garden
To be honest this will not be first priority, mainly because it feels more important to get the indoors ready, but having a garden with palm trees feels pretty darn amazing. I have no idea of where to start, but I'm sure it will be fun.

There's a bathroom with a bathtub
I haven't lived in a house/apartment with a bathtub since my first ever apartment when I was 19! I'm not sure how much I'll actually use it, but I'm excited!

The laundry room
There's a room adjacent to the first floor guest room that can be used as a laundry room. I'm so relieved I wont have to have wet clothes hanging all over the house all the time. Phew.

built in closet in bedroom
storage room 
guest room with laundry room and toilet
Obviously the positive things far far outweigh the negatives ones. The negatives are mostly details and of a aesthetic nature, while the positive have a more important impact on how we can live our daily life here. Plus, again, I actually look forward to see how I can solve these issues in a satisfactory way. I'll probably come back to each of these problems as I tackle them!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

2 months ago, today

our house in Stavanger got packed up and all of our stuff was loaded into a container. Since then I've lived in my friends Emma's guest room and an hotel room. In just a few days we will be reunited with our things and move in to our new house here in Panaga.

I. Can't. Wait. 

Monday, 20 June 2016

Let me present: the floor plan

Yes, there will be quite a few house and interior design posts here for a while. I'm an architect with a new house to play with, live with it. And we get the keys tomorrow! And our furniture arrives on Friday, if all goes well...

Our new home is a white two story house. On the ground floor there's only the Amah quarters (where if you'd have a Amah - or live in maid - that person would live) that consists of a small room, a small kitchen and a toilet plus shower. Since we are not planning to employ an Amah we will most likely use this space as a guest room and the kitchen as laundry room. There's also a pretty big storage room with ground floor access, next to the parking space under the house. We are still a bit unclear on how we will use these parts of the house, but I've already planned out most of the first floor.

On the first floor, with access both from the main entrance and from a back door, there are 2 bedrooms, a living room, a bathroom and a kitchen. And a big balcony/porch.We will most likely use the smaller bedroom as an office/studio where I will work, study and keep busy with various projects. Like blogging!

I don't have an actual floor plan, and I don't have any measurements or info on square meters, but here's a sketch I made from memory after we visited the house a week ago. I think I might have drawn the living room a bit big, but you at least get the idea.

And here's how I plan to furnish it! I'm dividing the living room into four parts, the entrance, the library, the dining area and the den. I'm just now working on mood boards for all parts and rooms in the house, to help create an well balanced and unified interior. I also find it very helpful with mood boards when I'm going to buy new stuff for the house, it forces me to visualize what feeling I want in different areas and then makes it easier to stick to it. And to remove things that doesn't fit in. I will come back with all of these mood boards one after the other as we move in.

Morning run

Running - or jogging combined with walking in my case - is impossible to do during the days here, because of the heat. But it's not that hard to wake up at 5:45 when you know this sunrise run is what's awaits you. Beats running over Bybrua in the rain back in Stavanger...

Saturday, 18 June 2016

new house check list

Before we bought our house in Stavanger I set up a wishlist for what I wanted in our new home. The wishlist was semi-realistic but most of the wishes actually came true when we found our tiny house in 2012. This time there were not as many different homes to chose from, but the house we ended up picking still meets quite a lot of the requirements i had back then!

I want a balcony
Well since this house has both a pretty big garden (with palm-trees!) and a big deck on the second floor I think we can say "check" on this one

it should be at least as big as our current apartment
Our house in Stavanger was actually smaller than our previous apartment, but this house is bigger! I don't have the numbers, but it is.

preferably pretty close to the city center
Hmmm. No. But what city? This house is really close to the Andreas' office, one of the social clubs (with gym and pool) and the ocean. I think that is close enough to enough stuff. We will have to get a car (which I find annoying having managed without one for so long) so we will have easy access to the two small towns close to Panaga where we live.

an open fireplace would be nice
Nope. And you might think this wouldn't be necessary when you live in a country where it's always ca 28-32 degrees, but with all of the air-conditioning I still find it chilly inside. 

it should have a bed room big enough for a king size bed. And being able to walk around it without banging my shins on the frame.
Yup! Obviously this depends on how we furnish, but still, I think this is the largest bedroom I've had. Not huge, but big enough. Not enough room for my clothes though.

separate kitchen, please
Yes! But it is quite small and we wont be able to fit all appliances in there so we will have to keep the fridge/freezer in the dining area of the living room. Which I find kind of irritating. Oh well.

some fun but sort of easy renovation projects would be great
Well. Nah, not really. But this is only a rental so it's good we don't have to do to much. I still think it will be challenge enough to make this house a home that looks like I want it to, because of some quirks I will come back to in another post. 

we need lots of storage space for all our stuff
Yes and no. We will have a whole storage room on the first floor, but it will most likely be unsuitable to store for example clothes in because it will be hot and humid in there. And there is not enough closet space. Another fun challenge to solve!

Beach tracking

New hobby: trying to figure out who's hanging out at the beach. Come along and share the "fun"!

Here we see the tracks of what I'm pretty sure is a sand crab. A quite big one if you judge by the size of the house-hole and the fact that its many little feet actually have enough weight on them to make an imprint.

Could this be a large centipede, maybe? Or aren't there enought feet-marks? Any guesses, friends?

This is a car. I'm guessing Toyota.

Here's something interesting. Clawed feet and a tail dragging in the sand? Obviously a smallish dragon.

And the elusive homo sapiens. Strangely uncommon on this beach, I might add. 

Friday, 17 June 2016

Sartorial musings

It's no secret I like clothes. And I like dressing up. And shopping. I can brows web-shops for hour dreaming of pretty dresses. It's a bit hard to describe what my style is and it varies a bit since I usually adapt what I wear after the situations I'm in, but I do tend to favor dresses, preferable with a retro look. Some of my friends (Rich) might be surprised by this but I'm no stranger to a good pair of trousers, altough I definitely have more dresses in my wardrobe. But here's the issue - what do I wear here? My whole wardrobe is - of course - suitable for life in Norway, with considerable lower temperature and a different culture. Here in Brunei there are several things to think about when getting dressed, like the heat and humidity, obviously, but also a different culture whit some restrictions on what is OK to wear in public. I'm not sure exactly how these restrictions presents themselves in practice and I will have to observe for a while until I get a feeling for it. And then there is the ting that I wont have an office to go to every day. Hmm.

I do own some summer clothes that works for warmer weather, and I bought some more before coming here, but they are not really me. Short shorts and long, thin dresses are not what I like best. And that's one thing that I worry a bit about, that I wont feel comfortable wearing what I like the best - skater or swing dresses with skirts to just above the knee. Or that I'll end up just lounging around in comfy clothes all day.

These first days here I've been wearing almost exactly the same things every day: a pair of light and comfy (but hardly pretty) trousers and cotton shirts or t-shirts. Oh, and there has also been the Zlatan inspired man bun hairdo... Not very glamorous, but OK for just driving, hanging out on the floor of the cats kennel or in the couch.

hopefully this image will change over the next few weeks...
I'm getting so tired of living from a suitcase... I've been here over a week now, and before that I stayed in Emma's guest room for about five weeks and using the same pieces over and over again. I can't wait to unpack my clothes next week so I can start figuring out how I can dress like Annika while not feeling too much out of place - or sweaty - here. Future outfit posts will tell if I succeed!

week one, a summary

I arrived here in Panaga, Brunei the night between last Thursday and Friday, so now I have been here a full week already. It feels a bit strange. Somehow I'm still in standby mode but I guess that will all change when we get our house and furniture on Tuesday and can start actually settling in.

So what has this first week been like, you ask? Not extremely eventful, I answer! I have been driving back and forth to the quarantine kennel twice a day since Saturday, sometimes with Andreas, and sometimes by myself. I have eaten a Ramadan buffet with a group of people I don't know - it was nice! And I have received 2 huge mosquito bites. I have watched a bunch of episodes of Elementary on Netflix, a series that I think is surprisingly good, and I have eaten toast 4 times. I have also worked out a little bit, and today I got lost twice on the beach, the first time on my very short morning run, and the second time on my afternoon walk. 

The best thing about this week is that I feel OK with driving, even though eyes feel weird and I have to make sure I don't sit i front of the computer or read too much before driving. The worst thing has been the cats having to be in quarantine. I wrote a long post yesterday about the cats and their move here, it's posted on my second blog - here

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Good house news!

Just before I left for Brunei almost a week ago we got some good news. It seems we might get a permanent house already in a week! We were pretty sure we would have to live in temporary housing for a while, maybe up to a year, before a permanent house became available for us. But all of a sudden we had three to chose from! Andreas sent me some photos of them and on Friday we went to have a look, and decided on which one we want. Here it is:

Yesterday we got some equally good news: our container with furniture has arrived from Norway and already cleared customs, so we will actually be able to move in with our own stuff from the beginning, also something we weren't sure we could do. Yay!